Sunday, March 13, 2011

How does an abusive teen rehab center avoid regulation and inspection?

The start of a career in the teen rehabilitation industry

Lester Leo Roloff was an American fundamental Independent Baptist preacher. Roloff began preaching at small country churches in southern Texas, before taking on pastoral duties at churches in Houston and later Corpus Christi. It was in Corpus Christi in 1944, that Roloff began his radio show, The Family Altar. Roloff in April 1951 resigned as pastor at Second Baptist Church to enter full-time evangelism. He founded the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises, a non-profit religious organization. In August of 1954, with convictions about being independent of the Southern Baptist Convention or any other denominational influence, he founded a church in Corpus Christi which was to be called the Alameda Baptist Church. Roloff gave speeches at Baylor University and over his own radio show. Separate from mainline Southern Baptists, Roloff began actively ministering to alcoholic and homeless men.

His first mission house was established in Corpus Christi in 1954. Roloff Homes was established for troubled youth and were privately run faith based residential facilities in Texas. Additional children's homes were eventually added throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The first Roloff home for females, The Rebekah Home for Girls, was established in 1968. It was touted as a place where girls in trouble could get worship as they got straightened out. This school specialized in taking cases other agencies and homes refused to take.

Complaints of child abuse surface

The Texas Attorney General's office began investigating reports of violent beatings, starvation, and torture at the Roloff Homes in 1971. April, 1973, when the state Welfare Department filed a suit in an attempt to have the Rebekah Home licensed. State and Local child protective authorities first investigated possible abuse at the Rebekah Home in 1973, when parents who were visiting their daughter reported seeing a girl being whipped. Rebekah girls who said they had been whipped with leather straps, beaten with paddles, handcuffed to drainpipes, and locked in isolation cells-sometimes for such minor infractions as failing to memorize a Bible passage or forgetting to make a bed. When girls who had not yet "been saved" tried to run away they were thrown in the lockup which was a dorm room devoid of furniture or natural light where girls spent days, or weeks, alone. In spite of repeated warnings by state child welfare agencies, there were continuing accounts of beatings, forced restraints and use of isolation on the teens which lead to the Texas Attorney General recommending the facilities be regulated and licensed or be closed. (see the case of Deanne Dawsey

This led to a confrontation between Roloff Homes and the Texas AG over legal issue of the separation of church and state. If licensed, the home would have been required to hire a home supervisor who holds a degree in social work and who is approved by the Welfare Department. That supervisor would be required to complete an additional fifteen hours of college level social studies every two years. Roloff Holmes would be required to file financial reports regularly with the Texas Welfare Department. The home would also have to hire one state-approved worker for every eight girls.

On August 3, 1973, an injunction was signed, in which Roloff was enjoined from operating a child care institution without a license for those under sixteen years of age. On October 5, 1973, a district judge heard the case and fined Roloff $500 and $80 in court costs for contempt of court when he refused welfare guidelines. With Roloff still refusing to have the home licensed, the Welfare Department leveled charges against the home, based upon the testimony the girls. At that time 1,500 girls had spent time at Rebekah Home. Some of the homes were temporarily closed in 1973, but re-opened the following year after Roloff successfully appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

Evading prosecution through shuffling ownership

Roloff at one point transferred ownership of the homes from Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises to his church, the People's Baptist Church, forcing the state to sue the "new" owners, and keeping the homes running. Then on January 31, 1974, the case went to court again in Corpus Christi and Roloff was found guilty--fined $5,400 and sentenced to five days in the county jail on contempt of court charges. The court also ordered him to remove all the girls from the home.

Questioning the constitutionality of state licensing

On February 4th he was given the opportunity to present his argument on the constitutionality of state licensing of a church-operated home before the Provisions Committee of the Texas State Senate. The high court finally ruled that children sixteen or over could be cared for by Roloff and as a result overturned the contempt of court charges May 20, 1974. The Attorney General refilled the case, forcing an injunction that tried to shut the ministry down. In 1975, the State of Texas passed laws that required licensing of youth homes. Roloff was arrested twice for refusing to comply with this law. March, 1975, the Texas Welfare Department had filed against Roloff again for contempt and for being in violation of their rules and regulations. By January 1, 1976, the new guidelines by the Welfare Department became law, making it illegal for unlicensed homes to take in children under the age of eighteen.

Political power from the pulpit brought to bear on state regulators

But Roloff had vocal support from his followers which included many evangelical preachers. In his very successful radio show, the late evangelist, Lester Roloff, praised the use of punitive "Bible discipline" as a method to chasten girls who had fallen from grace. As a result the faithful showered Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises with checks, jewelry and other valuables and he made millions. Texas State welfare workers received reports of physical abuse and Attorney General John Hill finally filed a suit against Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises.

In 1979 an incident occurred in this church vs state battle, which became known as the "Christian Alamo." Lester Roloff urged churches and pastors across America who supported the Roloff ministry to come to Corpus Christi and form a human chain around the church to prevent the Department of Human Resources from removing children from the homes. This human barricade of fundamental evangelical supporters prevented the girls from being removed by Texas State officials for 3 days. The Rebekah girls were essentially prisoners in this political show down between Roloff and the Texas Attorney General. Lester Roloff was expressing his political power and the hidden support network of thousands of fundamentalists who adhered to similar beliefs and listened to his radio show. So the Roloff Homes was the center a twelve-year battle between church and state which ended in the Christian Alamo standoff. (For a more personal account of Roloff Homes see )

Still vowing to legally fight for separation of church and state and to prevent governmental interference in the way Roloff Homes disciplined children, Roloff Homes in 1979 placed themselves legally under the auspices of the People's Baptist Church. This forced the Kansas Attorney General to then sue a new legal entity and Roloff Homes again refused to apply for a Texas state license or to comply with state regulations regarding protection of children from abuse.

Legal battles with the State of Texas continued and the homes were closed and re-opened. The Texas homes were finally closed again in 2001 after Lester Roloff's death but the legal battle that had kept them open for so long had significantly changed the political landscape for all faith based organizations.

The political message was clear – there was a huge following of fervent religious people not just in Texas but throughout the USA. These were American citizens who had previously not engaged in the political arena, many of whom had never even registered to vote and who in large part lived their lives apart from the rest of the general society. They claimed the right to religious freedom and do what they wished within their religious facilities. They claimed Lester Roloff as one of their own and he then embodied their right to separation of church and state. The Texas Attorney General and the social services agencies who wished to shut the facility down were representing the right of the state of Texas to assure that human rights abuses and child abuse did not happen to any minor child regardless of the religious beliefs of the parents.

In 1985 the state prevailed and forced the Rebekah Home to close. But the political message was heard by Texas Governor George W. Bush. Texas Governor George W. Bush in an effort to garner support from the fundamentalist churches and to secure their votes in the upcoming election supported legislation that would allow church-run child-care institutions to opt out of state licensing. This allowed George W. Bush to tap into the support of the huge numbers of fundamentalist evangelical unregistered voters and get them to vote in the upcoming election.

Death of Lester Roloff but rebirth of Roloff Homes in Missouri

On the morning of November 2, 1982, Lester Roloff boarded his Cessna 210 on his way to a preaching engagement at the Calvary Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri and his plane crashed.

After Lester’s death, Wiley Cameron Sr., assumed control of the Roloff Holmes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Roloff Homes must accept state licensing and regulation. But Roloff Homes had political support and had become a symbolic cause for the Religious Right. On the eve of the court ordered shut down of Roloff Homes in Texas, Cameron Wiley and other church members, took about 100 teens in a convoy of buses to the state of Missouri where there were no requirements for state licensure and inspection. Roloff Homes moved to Missouri and ran facilities there for 14 years in exile rather than accept state oversight in Texas.

While in exile in the state of Missouri, Wiley Cameron ran the Rebekah Home and Anchor Home in this new state. But Wiley Cameron continued to lobby the Governor of Texas George W. Bush to permit alternative accreditation to religious child care facilities. In 1984 the Supreme Court of Texas sided with the state, holding that the licensing of church-run child-care facilities violated no First Amendment religious freedoms thus required Roloff Homes to submit to licensing regulations and inspection.

In 1987 investigative reporters for the The Kansas City Times ran an article on physical abuse at the homes. Two days after the article ran, Cameron Wiley shut them down and returned to Texas because by then he had politically maneuvered to be able to escape state licensing and inspection there.

Alternative accreditation of faith-based facilities

Meanwhile, Wiley Cameron strategically and politically lobbied for the alternative accreditation law. He got his wish with 75th Texas Legislature’s House Bill 2482 which allows child care facilities that meet or exceed state standards to be accredited by private sector entities instead of being licensed and regulated by the state. These child care providers will still be subject to the appropriate background checks. Florida-based attorneys for the Roloff Homes are the only witnesses to testify in favor of this legislation.

In 1997, the Texas Legislature passed two bills, House Bill 2482 (75R) and House Bill 2481 (75R), that set the stage for deregulation of faith-based facilities in Texas. There was the establishment through law of an Alternative Accreditation system that allowed faith-based residential facilities and child care facilities to be accredited by a faith-based entity in lieu of being licensed and regulated by the state. In addition legislation was passed that permitted faith-based chemical dependency programs to be exempted from state licensing and regulation. The Texas legislature also set a governmental system to implement and promote the provision of governmental funds to faith-based organizations. The Texas Department of Human Services and the Texas Workforce Commission were to reach out with liaisons to create partnerships with faith-based organizations.

Effects of loss of regulatory control over residential faith-based facilities

So in Texas the new permissive regulatory climate allowed faith-based drug treatment centers must simply register their religious status with the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA) to be exempt from virtually all health, safety and quality of care regulations required of state-licensed treatment facilities. Thus these facilities were exempted from all medical treatment guidelines, employee training and licensing requirements, abuse and neglect prevention training, client rights protections, and requirements for reporting abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors.

The only such non-governmental entity approved by Texas to be an Alternative Accreditation Agency was the Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA). But this new accreditation process in which private accreditation agencies, rather than the state, were to oversee faith-based homes had only one registrant the TACCCA. This one and only agency to register with the state was the Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA). The TACCCA had a six-person board of directors which included Wiley Cameron. The agency was created after the passage of the bill and was headed by Pastor David Blaser, a longtime admirer of Lester Roloff's. When the TACCCA agency applied for state approval, state accreditation officials hesitated, citing the new law's requirement that only "recognized" accrediting agencies be approved. But then Don Willett of Governor George W. Bush’s office, claimed that the law was not intended to rule out new agencies, and the state relented after determining that all six board members had experience running child-care facilities. Three pastors who ran facilities were on the board of the TACCCA and thus actually inspected and regulated themselves. These were the Roloff Children’s Home, Channelview Christian Daycare and Miller Road Baptist Daycare. TACCCA accredited a total of only eight facilities in the four years the Alternative Accreditation program was in place. In theory, TACCCA was required to enforce the same standards, and conduct the same inspections, at facilities it regulated as were enforced at state-licensed facilities but it did not do so.

Concerns regarding this alternative licensing were voiced by the Texas Freedom Network report: The Texas Faith-Based Initiative at Five Years: Warning Signs as President Bush Expands Texas-style Program at National Level:
• TACCCA was cited by the state for failing to conduct any unannounced inspections of its facilities, as were required by state law and TACCCA.s state contract to be conducted annually at each facility.
• The rate of confirmed abuse and neglect at alternatively-accredited facilities was 25 times higher than that of state-licensed facilities. Alternatively-accredited facilities had a 25% rate of confirmed abuse and neglect, compared to a rate of less than 1% at state-licensed facilities.
• The complaint rate at alternatively-accredited facilities was 75%, compared to a 5.4% complaint rate at state-licensed facilities.
• The state could not conduct site visits or address complaints at alternatively-accredited facilities unless TACCCA filed formal allegations of abuse against a facility it accredits.
• Alternative Accreditation buffered faith-based organizations from state oversight, but left the children in their care vulnerable.

The Texas Freedom Network reports that “TCADA has no authority to investigate complaints, remedy unsafe conditions or ensure quality treatment practices at faith-based treatment centers that are exempt from state regulations. As such, clients of exempt treatment centers have no recourse through the state if they have a grievance with a facility they attended.”

Abuse at Roloff Homes continues

Wiley Cameron was appointed to serve on the board of directors of Texas Association of Child Care Agencies (TACCCA). Roloff Homes moved back to Texas and was able to open 5 facilities accredited by the TACCCA. The Roloff Homes were the first of eight faith-based child-care facilities accredited by TACCCA. Despite continued complaints of abuse and neglect, TACCCA re-accredited the Roloff Homes in April 2000. By 2000, reports of physical abuse, beatings and sadistic punishments resurfaced. In July 2001 a staffer at Roloff Holmes facility run by the People’s Baptist Church was found guilty of two counts of unlawful restraint, stemming from an incident in which he tied two residents together at the wrist and forced them into a 15-foot-deep pit. Two residents at the facility, officially called the Lighthouse but also known as the Roloff Homes, claimed that staff used extreme discipline, including beatings and forced exercise. The two young men who brought the case, Aaron Cavallin and Justin Simons, claimed that they were tied together, made to run through brush and forced into the pit after they were caught trying to flee the facility. Testifying in court, the staff member said the two clients expressed regret after they were caught running away and that he wanted to test their sincerity by putting them into the pit. A structural engineer who testified during the trial said the pit, which had been dug the day before as a drainage ditch, was not safe and could have collapsed.

Weakened control of faith-based social services

State regulation of "faith-based" social services was dramatically weakened in Texas in 1997 when then-Gov. George W. Bush pushed through a new state policy. Roloff Homes' resistance to state inspection was one reason for the change. Under the Bush plan, "faith-based" homes for juveniles were given the option of being overseen by independent religious associations instead of the government. The idea was that the religious homes would keep tabs on one another through periodic inspections, but critics charged that the plan would foster lax oversight of the institutions. Ironically, few religious groups saw the need for the alternative system. Over the same period, more than 2,000 child-care facilities chose to continue operating under a state license and 900 chemical dependency programs, faith-based and non faith-based alike, were still maintaining their state licensing and continue to remain content to be under state oversight. Only eight homes, Roloff among them, signed up for the alternative policy. Roloff Homes’ administrators were criminally convicted in 2001.

The Right Step Program is registered with the TCADA Commission as a faith-based chemical dependency treatment program, which is exempt from facility licensure and doing business as Williamson Baptist Association. It still continues to operate legally in Texas without licensed counselors, adherence to state health and safety standards, or accountability for client rights.

The establishment of a two tier system of accreditation for faith-based programs has proven to be dangerous to vulnerable children and chemically-dependent people. The elimination of basic health and safety standards has endangered these populations. Parents and clients are often unaware that the facility is unlicensed by the state and does not have to meet state health and safety standards. Medical care is often not provided to those clients who need it. There is no accountability or transparency to prevent the co-mingling of taxpayer funds with faith based funds meant for exclusively religious activities. The blurring of the line between church and state leads to potential first amendment rights violations.


Anonymous said...

How does an abusive teen rehab center avoid regulation and inspection?

Excellent question! and am so glad you asked it. I have also sought to understand it. Did you know that Roloffs day care center in Corpus Christi Texas, where he ran a day care center, was and had always been licensed by Texas? Something Governor White pointed out in his book, showing the odd behavior of Roloffs determination to keep anyone from seeing what was going on behind closed and locked doors. And proudly fighting against the demon State, while under cover out of sight, he had no qualms in licensing his day care center in Corpus. Why was he wanting to keep everything in the homes so in the dark? Why such a hidden darkness?

-- A Survivor.

MedicalWhistleblower said...

What was the reason for Roloff's resistance to licensing and inspection? This facility took girls who were pregnant or whose families thought they would become pregnant. Roloff's methods to keep the teens under his control was gaining considerable criticism from civil rights activists and women's rights advocates.
Roloff Homes residence for girls was under siege by the Attorney General of Texas who wanted the facility shut down because of continuing reports of abuse. The Day Care center in Corpus Christi was eligible for food stamps and TNAF funding. When the Attorney General of Texas told parents that he was going to shut the girls residence down, parents demanded the remainder of their money back from Roloff Homes and their children returned to them. The parents had signed contracts with Lester Roloff for their children's care and not all the payments had been paid. Thus when the order came through from the Texas AG that he would not force the parents to pay what was still due on the contracts - there was a show down. Lester Roloff claimed that these were legally binding contracts and he deserved to be paid the full amount even in the face of being shut down for child abuse by the Texas AG. Lester Roloff refused to return the children. During this time there was significant financial distress on Roloff and it is probable that he utilized resources from the Roloff Day Care center to help in the shortfall including their access to federal funding of TNAF food subsidies. These co-mingled funds which are originally derived from taxpayer state and federal funds were used to help feed the children in residential treatment and day care facilities. Only licensed and inspected facilities were receiving food stamp and TNAF food subsidies during this showdown with the Texas Attorney General.

Anonymous said...

Excerpt quote:
The Rebekah Home for Girls, was established in 1968. It was touted as a place where girls in trouble could get worship as they got straightened out. This school specialized in taking cases other agencies and homes refused to take.

The claim that Roloffs homes were taking in cases other agencies and homes refused to take, is a misleading distortion. Some were sent there by juvenile court, yes, because Roloff was painted as the 'Man of God' who was saving evil teens. But, most of the girls left in the hands of Roloff, were family scapegoats. Just about all the kids were victims of sexual, physical abuse, neglect or violence from their family or origins. They were normal kids, but some parents dropped them off there and did not show back up for years.

Anonymous said...

you said:
The parents had signed contracts with Lester Roloff for their children's care and not all the payments had been paid.

MY Parents never signed contract nor owed Roloff a dime, and only gave a tiny sum of money a month. Roloff had other methods for income.

a Roloff Survivor

Anonymous said...

you asked:
What was the reason for Roloff's resistance to licensing and inspection?

on the surface, his argument was Separation of Church and State.
--A Roloff Survivor

MedicalWhistleblower said...

Looking deeper than the professed reason of Separation of Church and State it is clear that the families sent girls to Roloff Homes to prevent state officials of child protective services from interviewing any of the girls. There had been concerns for child abuse - including sexual child abuse for some of the girls. The separation of Church and State defense was used to prevent entry of state agency professionals who wished to ascertain the physical and psychological safety of the children.

jessicaallen74 said...

I was on that farm in Corpus Cristi from 1990-1991, under the care of Bro. and Sister Palmer. I soon was asked to join the traveling girls quartet since I had music background. While at a Sword of the Lord conference that we were singing at, I ran away. I have nightmares about that place. I was there for 11 months, and was lucky enough to run away and live on the streets before my parents flew me home. Wiley and Faye Cameron were also over the homes. I was severely punished/abused verbally and physically. The idea of the home was ok...what it was in actuality, was horrendous.
Jessica Honeycutt Allen

jessicaallen74 said...

gOh, parents had to sign over custody of me to the Palmers (whose own daughter died in the plane with Lester Roloff) in order to get around the state ordinances. The telephone was kept behind lock and key, windows were bolted and locked, along with doors. We had no way to call for help....

MedicalWhistleblower said...

It was the courage of one of the girls at Roloff Homes who spoke about the abuse there that drew me to go through the legislation in Texas that permitted these facilities to avoid inspection and regulation. Because of her courage - as a victim of abuse - I was able to finally put together the pieces of abuse at what seemed to be unrelated facilities through several decades.

I hope that you as a survivor have emotional support for your healing and recovery.

Anonymous said...

I've found this post very late, but had to comment. Back in 1995, I was 18, and going through many issues I won't get into here. My IFB church in NC had heard about Roloff Homes, and I think Rebekah Home (I can't recall exactly which part it was), and offered to send me there to help me get closer to God. I took them up on it. When I got there, I was picked up by a woman and driven to the home...I know it is the compound, b/c I recognize the pictures. There were what looked like guards standing outside...this kind of freaked me out. During the intake, she and some of the girls (all looking rather zombielike, but smiling robotically and friendly-like) began going through my bags, removing my books and clothing, and told me that I wouldn't have access to them because they would inhibit my relationship with God (by the way, my books were Charles Dickens, Hawthorne, and Mark Twain...not exactly evil fare). This set of bells in my head...I immediately began to feel uneasy. When they took my purse and removed my SS card and ID for "safekeeping", I'd had enough, and wanted to call the music minister of my church, who, along with his wife, were almost like parents to me. For 10 minutes, the woman argued with me, refusing to allow me to use the phone, telling me I had made my choice, and I was to stay there. When I started getting irate, and questioning them (trying to clarify what they were going to do to help me...I had been under the impression that they would help me grow closer to Christ, while helping me establish an independent life with a job and was my church...and she said women didn't serve a purpose working outside the home, yet another red flag), and finally threatening legal action (I actually had no idea what I was doing, I just was terrified and knew I was 18 and they SHOULDN'T be able to legally keep me there), she finally allowed me to call my church. I was crying by this point, and hysterical, yelling that I wanted OUT. He got on the phone with the woman and told her to drive me back to the bus station, that he would take care of getting me back home. Well, needless to say, the girls who helped repack my bags and bring them out were not as friendly as they had been a little bit before. My luggage was practically tossed into the vehicle, and the woman drove me back to the bus station, and never spoke another word to me. I made it home. When I look back on it, and read about the abuse and brainwashing, I thank the Lord that I never got past the front office and into that home. Thank GOD for the instincts He provided me with, and thank GOD that I was a legal adult when I went there, or else, I'm sure they might have forced me to stay.

Anonymous said...

I was at the Anchor Home in around 81-82 .. right before Roloff died. I can personally attest to the abuse that went on in those homes. What is the current status of these places? Are they open? My experience was horrendous .. My Mom had no idea what sort of place this really was. She thought it was like a Christian military academy. In any event, they cut off all contact with family, conducted hardcore brainwashing, systemic brutalization and humiliation of kids, and I was molested too. When I left, I was still brainwashed, and it took about a year to get my head on straight. I am not sure Roloff actually knew what was going on in the homes to be honest. I mean, I never saw him there when the abuse occurred. Indeed, if he came, everyone cleaned up and we were made to play games like checkers, etc. The reality on a daily basis was hard field work or work at the processing plant (which I confess I liked -- boiling and packaging peaches was kind of neat). But man, some of the horrors I saw and endured....

Anonymous said...

My name is Beverly Henson, I was/am a Rebekah Girl 03/84-4/85. I have endlessly read the internet about the abuse in the homes. I came in at a time I truly believe was a transition of what Bro Roloff's Godly intentions were to the horrid nightmare that I lived while under new guidance in Rebekah and many girls after me experienced.
My dorm parents were the Barretts. Mrs. Barrett was root of all evil, that woman enjoyed watching us girls suffer. When I first arrived as with new girls arriving, I didn't want to be there so my "rebelious ways" earned myself kneeling for hours in the front foryer. The spankings (licks) were horrible and I truly believe it was Mrs.Barretts favorite day/moment of the week (each Friday night). The look on her face when she would call each girl to get licks was nothing but pure pleasure.
I quickly learned as most girls did to go along with the endless torture. That is the extent of my experience there. However, while there I seen girls try to run and the horrible punishment of lock up and spankings they would recieve.
I've only read of the abuse in Rebekah, my own experience included beginning when Bro Roloff died. I have read of no abuse while he was alive. I have searched the internet and can not find any stories of girls being abused while Bro Roloff was alive as I've read after his death.
If anyone can share their personal experience of what life was like before his death in 1982, please share with me. And if you know of anywhere on the internet of any shared abuse stories of when Bro Roloff was alive I would like to read about it.
I am a believer of God and want to believe that Rebekah home was not abusive while Bro Roloff was alive like it had become when the Camerons took over.
Please share, I'd love to hear.

Beverly Henson
Rebekah Girl and Forever Changed March 1984 - April 1985

Pam from Missouri said...

Today a woman that has done some work for me--and that i have gotten to know--told me about her time when, as a young girl,she was in one of the homes in Texas--Rebekah, I think. She told me about how the home had birds in cages. One day a bird bit her finger and she cussed. It was heard as the rooms were monitored. She was called to the office and paddled with a thick board with holes in it. She said another girl outside the office counted and she was told she had been paddled 51 times. She was fourteen at the time. She talked about farmers with guns surrounding the home (?).
I thought she was exaggerating until I later looked it up on the internet. First time I heard of these homes. I was in foster care during my teens and I am three years older than Beth. I am so sad for her and all of the other children that spent time in the homes. I can't believe the homes existed as long as they did.

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MedicalWhistleblower said...

See this more complete report

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MedicalWhistleblower said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi Beverly, I was there in the home from 9/85-8/86. The Barrett's were my house parents also. I had a great experience while I was there and I did not see any of the abuse you talk about. I was there for 11 months and received only two licks my entire time there and they were not hard at all. I had harder licks in the public school I went to before going into the home. I also only saw two girls go into confinement my entire stay there and it was only for two - three day's at the most. Well they do that in prison and that's we're a lot of these girls were headed. I became a born again Christian while I was in the home and my life has been changed forever. I don't believe Mrs Barrett got any pleasure from spanking anyone. The girls in Rebekah home for girls were there because they were rebellious and lacked discipline in there lives. I don't consider being spanked on the bottom abuse. I'm glad you have also been changed, but as a Christian disappointed in your slander. The Rebekah Home for Girls has changed many lives and for that I am grateful.

Ronda Smith White

Melody Song said...

Hi beverly,
I am a "Rebekah girl" 1969-1971. I've been looking on the internet for people who were there when I was just to see if they would speak out. Not one. Maybe they are thinking like I had been . I am 57 yrs old, maybe I just need to let it go. Problem is, I may want to let it go but it won't let me go. I still, after all these years, have night terrors. Bro. Rolloff favorite saying was - " better a pink bottom than a black soul" he was the one that said corpreal punishment is all that will straighten us out, turn us away from the "worldly things". He preached that once god got hold of our soul, we wouldn't want to go home-back to? The life of sin we had left. We got "licks" with a razor strap. We were also sent to a trailer out by the goats and left there for days. Someone would come by in the morning to give you food and a bathrrom break and one time in the evening-to give food, a bathrrom break and a 45 min. Bible reading. Most all of the things you read here happened while he was alive. Now, on the otherhand, if you were a trusted girl, bro rolloff- would take you on the plane with him for a weekend at the light house for some fun fishing and swimming. You had to swim in your skirt and there were no boys in sight. It seemed the girls that went were always the same ones- the girls frfrom the honeybee quartet. Every time. Our family was not allowed to visit or write to us. In fact all mail was read by staff before we got it. Any food sent by family was confiscated. I keep saying by family because we were not allowed mail from anyone other than our parents. Mail going out to them was also read. I had no idea if they got my letters or not. We were not allowed phone calls-it cost to much. There was a girl, I want to say she was about 12, she was caught sneaking food into her room - she got whipped with the razor strap and sent to the trailer for stealing. I'm telling you that trailer was a hell hole. The windows were locked there was not air conditioning or heat or water, no bathroom. It was hell. I've often said if iwas going to go to hell for the sins I commited before I went there-they had been atoned for several times over by the time I left. I do believe with all my heart and soul bro rolloff not only knew about, but designed the rules and the punishments. I would like to believe that the punishments got out of control by sadistic people that allowed their position to go to their head and took advantage of it. I swear to god I think mr weatherford got his kicks spanking us with that razor strap while his wife watched. I could go on about th atrocities that went on therei the name of god under the guise of salvation- but you've read about them and imsure relived them a million times in your head just as I have. Yes, the nightmares even happened while he was alive

agapehelp07 said...

Hey Wes,
thanks for sharing this. I like it.
I love that it is a call to the unshakable foundation that the Gospel MUST be in our lives rather than just behavior modification.

Christian counseling Northgate


Anonymous said... Rebekah Home Victims

Starting my life at 55 said...

Hi My sister-in-law, whom I adore, was in Rebekah in 77-79 I think she said. She ended up in another state with the Cameron's at one point and after many beatings finally got loose, headed to the interstate and hitchhiked back to Texas. My sister in law is Lacey Haynes. She is dealing with advanced liver disease and has been reflecting on her experience at the school. Her alcoholic mother stuck her in there so she would not have to deal with her. She wasn't bad at all - just a normal teenager. Her Mother lied to get her in there - saying she had tried to kill her - not true at all! She just wanted to by-pass the waiting list and get her there faster so she would not be in the way. I've been telling her there are groups on the internet about this place and she is very excited for me to show her. If anyone knew her, please let me know. Thank you and as a Mother, I can't tell you the anger I feel for the abuse that all of you survivors suffered. I just wish that Lacey could have gotten some professional mental health when she came out of there, but sadly she never had that opportunity and walked around for years believing that she was worthless, just as she was told daily at that horrible place. On the other hand, she said that Roloff was always very nice to her. She has horrible stories about other however.

Starting my life at 55 said...

My sister-in-law, Lacey Haynes was in Rebekah from 77-79, I believe she said. She is sick with advanced liver disease and has recently been reflecting on her stay at this horrible "school" She was not a "bad girl" at all - just sent there by an alcoholic mother who lied to get her in faster by saying Lacey had tried to kill her. The mother wanted to by-pass the waiting list. She ended up in another state with the Cameron's I believe, and finally, after all the slaps and beatings, escaped to the nearest interstate and hitch-hiked back to Texas. For years she walked around thinking she was worthless and undeserving because that is what she was told every single day while at this hell hole. I just wishes she had been able to get some counseling to deal with the abuse issues, but unfortunately, that never happened. I told her yesterday about these blogs and I am going to show them to her in a few days. If anyone knew her, please let me know so I can tell her. Thank you and I'm so sorry for all of you survivors - I cant imagine what you went through at such a tender age.

Starting my life at 55 said...

My sister-in-law, Lacey Haynes was in Rebekah from 77-79, I believe she said. She is sick with advanced liver disease and has recently been reflecting on her stay at this horrible "school" She was not a "bad girl" at all - just sent there by an alcoholic mother who lied to get her in faster by saying Lacey had tried to kill her. The mother wanted to by-pass the waiting list. She ended up in another state with the Cameron's I believe, and finally, after all the slaps and beatings, escaped to the nearest interstate and hitch-hiked back to Texas. For years she walked around thinking she was worthless and undeserving because that is what she was told every single day while at this hell hole. I just wishes she had been able to get some counseling to deal with the abuse issues, but unfortunately, that never happened. I told her yesterday about these blogs and I am going to show them to her in a few days. If anyone knew her, please let me know so I can tell her. Thank you and I'm so sorry for all of you survivors - I cant imagine what you went through at such a tender age.

sheila said...

I was in rebekah 83-84,the Barrets ran the home then.I still have nightmares at the age of 45.the cruelty inside that place is unbelievable,cruel and down right discusting.I dont think about it often but when i do i cry.Ive often thought how these so-called christians beat children all in the name of God.You still vant get me in a church-i shake and a fear comes through me,I pray my own way.dont need a building for girl i remember was forced to get an abortion,she was never right after that,ive thought about her over the years and a few others,i wonder what happened to them and if they are fine for themost part-but the nightmares,the damn nightmares just wont go away.

Anonymous said...

I was also there during 70-71 and I don't know anyone that got sent to a trailer. The air conditioned sewing room, yes, but only once or twice the whole time that I was there. Once because some girls ran away (at night in fields with snakes and coyotes) and they were placed there partly for punishment and also for their safety. Another time two girls were placed there for safe keeping because a motor cycle gang (The Banditio's) threatened to come and break them out.
I received mail regularly from my family AND FRIENDS, even though some of the writing was marked out in my friends letters. I also talked to my parents by phone numerous times, as did many other girls. My family also came to visit me and took me off property. Some of the local girls families came to visit and brought them food that they shared with us.Mail going out was read by staff, so I gave ti to the pregnant girls to mail when they left.I'm pretty sure they read mail in state institutions too. It's done for safety purposes and to prevent transfer of drugs and weapons, etc. Brother Roloff was a good man and would never intentionally plan to hurt someone. I did get 3 swats with a razor strap for smoking pot in my closet,but I never got sent to any trailer without a bathroom. Some of the girls on this post suffered considerably after Granny and Papa and Brother Roloff left, but some people are just making crap up.

Mary Ann Wynn said...

I just wanted to let any of the Rebekah girls, or Roloff Home Survivors know that we have a site on facebook with over 100 members where we reconnect and find old friends. It's called Bekah Girlz. I am the administrator and would love to have you join us.

Mary Ann Wynn said...

Anyone who was at Rebekah, or any of the Roloff Homes I wanted to let you know we have a facebook group, which is private, and also of which I am the administrator, and we would love to have you join us to reconnect with old friends. On FB I am MaryAnn Niswander Piano Instructor and the group is Bekah Girlz. It is a private group and you will have to ask to join to get in. Thanks, hope to see you there. WE already have well over 100 members

Anonymous said...

God bless u . i believe yoy. i know. - survivor 1982

Anonymous said...

I know for a FACT he did beat pregnant women on their buttocks (see articles and for more information.)

Anonymous said...

I was in Rebekah Home for Girls in the early 80s. Mr. Barrett was having sex with several of the "helpers". He used to stay up late in the front living room and have girls (age 12-16) sit on his lap, kissing and touching. I was not sent there because I was bad and headed to jail. I hate it when people say that. I was sent there because my parents had to work during the summer and didn't want me to be home alone. I got whipped severely with that paddle with holes because I cussed on the basketball court when some girls got aggressive with me and started ganging up on me. I also had to kneel for hours. Mrs. Barrett had weird crazy eyes that would look at you evil as she smiled. She was on a power trip. Truely, someone could make a movie out of what happened there - but I'm afraid it would leave many girls with nightmares as it did me living the experience. There were 2 lock up rooms, 1 upstairs, 1 downstairs. There was almost ALWAYS someone in there. The hallway would stink something awful from the smell coming from that room. While in there, the girls were not allowed to shower or clean themselves. They were only allowed to have a pillow and slept on the floor. They were only allowed to wear their panties and a t-shirt. Sometimes one of the workers would even go in there and paddle them as if the lock up experience wasn't enough. The minimum stay for lock up was 2 weeks. That's 14 days in solitary - but many girls were in there for 3-6 weeks. Then once they got out they had to wear red for 2 weeks to 30 days, be led around by a "helper" girl and not look up or speak to anyone. There was one girl there named Susan that had to walk around in handcuffs for about 2 weeks. She missed so many phone calls (which only came once every 30 days) that her parents finally came there to find out what the problem was and ended up taking her home. That poor girl was whipped all the time! They used to line us up every Friday night and give us licks for all the demerits we had gotten during the week. They played it over the intercom for all to hear the swats and the girls crying out. We learned to wear extra pair of panties under our blue jean skirts on those nights, trying to add some extra padding. After the paddling, they must us sit on the floor in the living room and read the bible for 2 hours. We were not allowed to look up at all or we'd get another 2 demerits added on to the next week. "Reading" the bible consisted of chanting 40 chapters. It was so cult like it creeped me out. Yeah, that really made we WANT to learn the bible. NOT! The place was horrible! I had nightmares for years! If you thought your child needed therapy before going in there, you can bet she really needed it after coming out.

Wendi Holeman said...

Well I too was in there in 80s story about Friday night it was soo true and so typical id like to give the barretts a piece of my mind wendi holeman was patterson

Anonymous said...

I was a resident of his Bethesda Home in Mississippi. Many who were there have documented PTSD. Many who where there had their children taken from them and adopted out in closed adoptions. Southern Poverty Law Center was our hero and helped get that place shut down. The owners flew private planes, owned buses and large homes. Many have speculated the source of their income was not only from the "fundraising" activities they made us participate in, but the sale of those infants within their closed adoption system.

If you hate what is happening people take a stand against the White House Faith-Based Initiative. That thing makes it legal for religious non-profit status institutions to receive cash awards from the government while remaining tax free and do as they please in an unregulated system.

Regulation must be a standard in all rehabilitative facilities, Faith-Based or otherwise.